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RightMark Audio Analyzer playback quality - 16-bit/44.1kHz
This is where we get really geeky. If you're not interested in things like frequency response, dynamic range, or intermodulation distortion, you'll be forgiven for jumping straight to the conclusion. Seriously, congratulations for making it this far.

We're moving onto some objective evaluations of analog signal quality using RightMark Audio Analyzer. Our first test probes the front-channel output of each card using a test signal recorded by a high-end Xonar Xense on a separate system. We ran this test with 16 bits of resolution at 44.1kHz, a perfect match for CD audio.

To keep things simple, we've translated RightMark's word-based quality scale to numbers. Higher scores reflect better audio quality, and the scale tops out at 6, which corresponds to an "Excellent" rating.

  RightMark Audio Analyzer playback quality - 16-bit/44.1kHz
  Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD THD + Noise IMD + Noise Stereo Crosstalk IMD at 10kHz Overall score
Realtek ALC898 6 4 4 5 3 4 5 5 5
Xonar DX 6 4 4 6 3 4 5 5 5
Xonar DGX 5 4 4 6 3 4 5 5 4
Xonar DSX 5 4 4 5 3 4 5 5 4

Surprisingly, the Xonar DGX and DSX score lower than the Realtek integrated audio. The numbers are pretty close across the board, though. No more than one point separates any of the cards from the others.

We have some more detailed RMAA graphs below. They're a little indulgent, we'll admit, but that's sort of our style. We've put frequency response first because it's one of the most important elements. Notice how the Xonar DGX falls off at higher frequencies, while the others hold the line for longer. Apart from the Xonar DX having a little more intermodulation distortion, the rest of the results are pretty close.

Frequency response

Noise level

Dynamic range

Total harmonic distortion + noise

Intermodulation distortion

Stereo crosstalk